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How to: Earn coverage for your story in a competitive media landscape

Long before 2020 hit, PR pros mastered the art of the pivot. We’re always prepared to switch up story ideas, take advantage of trends, or tackle a crisis head on. PR may be getting harder, but we’re confident our colleagues have what it takes to come up with creative solutions to get their clients covered.

Journalists today are inundated with pitches, many of which are irrelevant to the topics they’re interested in. In the PR realm, that means we need to be thinking more creatively about how we can be heard, even while ensuring we’re not contributing to the overwhelm by repeatedly pitching journalists who just aren’t interested.

Go beyond the press release.

Press releases are for newsworthy information, not story ideas. We know it’s easy to fall into the trap of sending out a press release to a list of hundreds – and with numbers like that you probably will get some response. But more often than not you’re contributing to that inbox traffic jam. We prefer to create targeted pitches that align with what we feel a specific journalist might be interested in. This helps build relationships (even if the pitch isn’t a fit at the time) and usually leads to better quality coverage.

Get back to basics.

We have all the tools we could possibly need at our disposal, yet journalists still receive pitches that are completely irrelevant to their beat. Get to know who you’re pitching and decide why they’re the best fit. What will be most interesting for them in particular? Can you tailor your pitch to show why you chose to reach out to them over a colleague? While you’re spending time getting to know the person you’re reaching out to, you might actually come across recent work that can support your decision to reach out to them – or you may find that a colleague of theirs could be an even better fit.

Back up your story.

We know journalists are overwhelmed, so provide research if you have it, utilize trends for timeliness, and make it clear that you have an expert on the topic that can support what you’re outlining in a pitch. Journalists have expressed an interest in working with PR professionals that make their jobs easier, so added resources in your initial pitch can give your story idea a leg up on competing content ideas.

Think outside the box.

The plus side of the media shift is that we’re not limited to traditional media outlets. These days channels go so far beyond TV and newspapers. There’s a whole realm of podcasts, blogs, and influencers that often specialize in hyper-focused topics – meaning that putting in the effort to pitch the right one can land you in front of a more targeted audience. Need inspiration? Ask your client what channels they and their staff utilize for industry information. They’ll probably count this as a bigger win, too, if you land them coverage on a channel they consume regularly.

If your story’s not getting told – tell it yourself.

Even with the tips above, we know that sometimes it can still be a challenge to land a story in front of your ideal audience. When this is the case (and in general to support earned media coverage), utilize content marketing to your advantage.

Take your solid story idea that’s not getting picked up, and write it yourself. A well-executed blog post allows you total control over your narrative, and gives you the opportunity to utilize that owned content across social channels and as an element of your paid media strategy. You may even be able to pitch your authored piece to a relevant publication or industry newsletter for additional visibility in front of your target audience.

Fluent IMC is a Maine marketing agency specializing in integrated marketing communications. Our expertise ranges from brand strategy and marketing planning to digital marketing and online advertising to public relations and communications.

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